Industry Consolidator Buys LCS for $97.25M

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List management and brokerage firm the SpeciaLISTS will become part of direct marketing industry consolidator CustomerOne Corp., Buffalo, NY, pending approval of a $97.25 million tender offer made Dec. 17 for its current parent, computer and teleservices provider LCS Industries, Clifton, NJ.

CustomerOne is a subsidiary of Onex Corp., Toronto, a holding company with annual U.S. revenues of $9 billion and $700 million in cash to pay for its vertical industry consolidation model. The merger, which includes the catalog fulfillment subsidiary Catalog Resources, Dover, DE, is expected to close in mid- to late January. The cash offer is valued at $17.50 per share.

Onex has established a major presence in the airline food catering and hi-tech component outsourcing industries through acquisition, according to CustomerOne CEO Tom Harberson, and now is seeking to build its profile in customer management through CustomerOne. Since June, CustomerOne has acquired the direct marketing firms North Direct Response, Toronto, and Softbank Services Group, Columbus, OH. The SpeciaLISTS is its first list property. Harberson said the CustomerOne mission is to put together a continuum of services that will help clients obtain, retain and maximize the lifetime value of their customers.

North Direct Response serves the consumer goods, hi-tech, insurance and healthcare industries, areas where Harberson said distribution models are moving rapidly to direct marketing. NDR maintains two call centers totaling 600 seats that provide outsourced customer and technical support for such clients as CoverGirl cosmetics and Hewlett-Packard.

The SpeciaLISTS and LCS will add customers and fulfillment services to help CustomerOne expand its customer base.

"[The SpeciaLISTS] is core to us because it's all about making our clients smarter,'' Harberson said. "Virtually every program we execute is about affecting a more productive campaign from conception to building the list and building the target audience."

SpeciaLISTS CEO Lonnie Mandel said the additional resources of CustomerOne will help his business grow organically and through the acquisition of other list firms.

"Between their technology and client base, it's a real win-win situation," Mandel said.

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